When I first started practising vinyasa yoga, I remember being guided through the same series of poses in each class, which was referred to as Surya Namaskar. Surya nama-what? Sun salutations! Hello, sunshine!
At first the sequence seemed difficult, but once I learned the foundations and modified the poses to support my beginner practice, this beautiful breath-guided movement became an incredible meditation in motion.
Surya (sun) namaskar (to bow to) quickly became a regular part of my practice, both in class and at home, and now as a seasoned yogi, sun salutations are one of my go-to practices for grounding, honouring our beautiful world or simply to get a sweet all-around stretch.
Especially first thing in the morning, in the backyard or other natural surrounding, the ritual of reaching my hands toward that glowing, life-giving energy and bowing in gratitude to its sheer magnificence immediately connects me to a deeper place of unity and peace.
In Hindu culture, the sun is revered as the centre of our world; that which sustains all life, and the dynamic sun salutation sequence was developed as a regular morning practice to worship the sun or Lord Surya, the god of health.
While Ashtanga yogis traditionally moved through 108 rounds of surya namaskar, starting in Samasthiti (equal standing pose) with hands together at the heart (anjali or prayer mudra) and completing each cycle in the same way, practising even three rounds every morning can be beneficial. What I love most about this sequence is that it can be practised slowly to calm the mind and regulate the breath or quickly to invigorate you for the day.
Moving through the flow with intention and presence can reduce mental and physical tension, improve circulation, stimulate the nervous system and raise body heat. It also helps to increase flexibility of the spine and strengthen the core and pelvic area, two areas of the body that have become increasingly weak as a result of our modern day lifestyle.
Yogic philosophy states that each of us is a representation of the greater universe. Everything outside of us is also within. So in addition to physical benefits, when we practice surya namaskar each morning to honour the sun, we also recognize and honour our own divine light within.
So friends, I invite you to join me and the radiant teachers of the Glow Yoga Academy in honouring the sun on Summer Solstice—Saturday, June 20—with a day-long event, beginning with—you guessed it—108 rounds Surya Namaskar.
No experience needed—we’ll take it nice and slow and, as always, honour your body by resting at any time. Check out the Glow Yoga Academy or register for Summer Solstice with all proceeds being donated to the LoveLand Foundation.
Let your beautiful light shine with a salute to the sun and see how this small, but powerful, ritual can brighten your day.